Jail for men who hijacked truck after dragging driver from cab

By Alison O'Riordan and Sarah-Jane Murphy

Two men who hijacked a skip-hire truck, after dragging the driver from his cab and knocking him about the head have been jailed, reports Alison O'Riordan and Sarah-Jane Murphy.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Gerard McDonnell (27) was serving a seven-year driving ban and Christian Goonery (30) was on bail when they pulled the skip driver from the vehicle while threatening him with a hammer.

Dublin Criminal Courts of Justice 2 October 2016

McDonnell of Kilmahuddrick Road, Bawnogue, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to stealing a mechanically propelled vehicle, on February 6, 2016 at Deansrath Green, Clondalkin.

He further pleaded guilty to unlawfully seizing the truck as well as endangerment and two counts of dangerous driving.

Goonery of Lindisfarne Avenue, Clondalkin pleaded guilty to unlawfully taking the vehicle as well as being a passenger in it.

Judge Cormac Quinn sentenced McDonnell to five years in prison with two suspended, and banned him from driving for ten years.

He sentenced Goonery to four years imprisonment and suspended the final two years.

He said the event appeared to be “opportunistic” and it was lucky that no-one was injured apart from the owner of the vehicle who sustained bruising to his face and head.

Garda Shane McHugh told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that the injured party had delivered a skip to a house and was making a phone call when two men appeared at the driver's door of the cab.

The defendants pulled the door open and ordered him to “get out”.

When the driver tried to use his legs to defend himself they dragged him out and caused him to fall to the ground and injure his knee, the court heard.

“He also got a few knocks around the head at this time and said he was very scared,” Gda McHugh said.

Gda McHugh said McDonnell then took a hammer which the driver kept in his cab and waved it around in a threatening manner to prevent the driver from getting back in.

“The men drove away, leaving the driver on the ground.

“The injured party contacted gardai, and told them the truck had a tracking device in it,” Gda McHugh said.

The vehicle nearly hit a person out for a jog on Cloverhill Road, the court heard.

During the pursuit by gardai, the vehicle failed to stop at red lights and repeatedly drove on the wrong side of the road.

The chase ended when the truck clipped a kerb, lost control and flipped onto its side, landing on the pavement.

One of the men got out and ran off and one remained in the cab, Gda McHugh said.

The court heard McDonnell has 49 previous and it was clear that he had raised the hammer at the driver.

Goonery has previous convictions for theft, possession of knives and is currently serving a three year sentence for assault causing harm, Gda McHugh said.

Damien Colgan SC, defending McDonnell, said what his client did on the day was completely opportunistic and reckless and he expressed remorse on behalf of his client.

Des Dockery SC, defending Goonery, said while this was opportunistic it was not premeditated and his client played a lesser role in the offence.

He said his client had alcohol and drug addiction issues before he went into jail and he had taken courses for this since going into prison.

Judge Quinn said the aggravating factors included both men unlawfully seizing the truck by force, the waving of the hammer at the injured party as well as driving in a dangerous manner.

The mitigating factors included the early pleas, their ages and personal circumstances.

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